Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pastoral Landscapes

The second part of the Victoria Gallery exhibition of The Ruralist paintings has been around for a couple of weeks now. I have visited it twice, mooching around trying to find out if I actually like the paintings. There are several Silbury ones, my favourite is of Silbury Hill with the moon behind and the river curving its way towards it, moonlight sparkling on the river. The large owl with a tiny Silbury behind is also good, as is Inshaw's Pussy Willow painting, (a puss sprawled on the table beneath) and May tree painting as well. So on reflection I am happy with Inshaw's paintings.

Portrait of Silbury Hill - David Inshaw, to quote from the catalogue. "that beauty of association is far superior to the beauty of the aspect" Thomas Hardy

Silbury Hill on a Starry Night - David Inshaw...pretty, butdoes it look like a green pyramid?

May Tree with Grey Sky - David Inshaw

David Inshaw not in the exhibition, but another favourite of the sarsens on the downs

The other painter to catch one's eye is of course Graham Ovenden, "All Hallows (The Sea Cathedral), and this rather strange painting takes its story, or at least its symbolism from a tale told by Walter del la Mare of a demonic restoration happening unseen in the cathedral of All Hallows. It also of course recalls to mind the church of Dunwich under the sea off the Norfolk Coast. The real colours are much more vivid, and it's large canvas does have an eerie feel to it, echoed of course by the other large canvas of Ovenden, the Tower of Babel, a spookily frightening straight edge jagged rock in a very flat landscape.

All Hallows (The Sea Cathedral) - Graham Ovenden

The Red Field - Graham Ovenden

This our Life, exempt from Public Haunt,
Find tongues in tree, books in ye running brooks,

Sermon in stones, and good in everything" Taken from 'As You like It - Shakespeare

There is a striking collage by Graham Arnold, that illustrates a favourite piece of writing of mine by Jefferies ('the grass-grown tumuli 'at Liddington Hill). It is a cabinet of secrets, and you have to study it to see the detail, the bulk of the painting is rows of 'bar coded' colours, but underneath, the cabinet colour reflects the white chalky dust of the Wiltshire Downs, with odd writings scribbled here and there. And again I would like to quote from the catalogue "The abstract personality of the dead seemed as existent as thought. In effect memory collapses time and the soul lives beyond time. " A graceful explanation of what Jefferies must have felt as he mused by that overgrown tumulus - the actual essence of life, and the dead from the past still throbbing in the air, the moment when we push past time and experience the eternal.

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